The regular season is over and the playoffs started this week, so what better time to offer fans a chance to experience just what it is really like to face a MLB fastball?
At least that’s what MLB sponsor Gatorade thinks as it rolls out its innovative ‘Go to Bat As Bryce Harper’ virtual reality experience: a 360-degree video flagged as a ‘first of its kind’ athletic experience.
The campaign features Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper and aims to enable fans to step into his shoes at the plate by blending real-action footage, computer-generated imagery, crowd noise and Harper’s internal monologue to provide a 360-degree, all-round experience that spans vision, sound and feel.
Shot from multiple angles with a 14-camera rig, the film can be viewed on on YouTube 360 from a computer or mobile,
But it is best experienced in full VR via Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift or other headset devices.
The campaign is supported by paid digital advertising and it is also promoted across Gatorade’s own digital and social platforms.
Another strand of the campaign saw Gatorade congratulate the amatuer side ‘Prince George RBI’ on a great season by inviting them to experience the epic Bryce Harper Virtual Reality Experience and then surprising them with a visit from Bryce Harper himself.
There is further support in the form of a ‘behind-the-scenes’ video posted by effects outfit The Mill.
As well as The Mill, the Gatorade team worked with OMD agency Zero Code and The Mill.
According to Gatorade, the drinks giant has begun experimenting with the 360 technology to stay on the communications cutting edge.
‘We’re always looking for new technologies and new ways to leverage platforms to bring a unique experience to our consumers and to athletes. We feel like this is going to be one of the platforms of the future to really give immersive and unique experiences to consumers,’ says Kenny Mitchell, Gatorade’s senior director-consumer engagement.
‘So we want to make sure we have a very, very strong grasp on it and can really help tell our brand stories through it.’
Indeed, this initiative follows a similar 360-degree experiences from Gatorade earlier this year revolving around the training regimes of Serena Williams, JJ Watt and Usain Bolt.
This is a dizzying, visually compelling campaign with multiple phases that is one of the earliest activations to explore the YouTube 360 technology.
YouTube 360 was launched earlier this year and aims to allow consumers to explore various angles and perspectives by dragging a mouse or shifting the position of their phone.
Other sponsor campaigns and sports marketers leading the way with this technology include All Blacks shirt sponsor AIG’s Rugby World Cup ‘Haka 360’ (see case study),
Wimbledon 2015 sponsor Stella Artois through its ‘Fly Like Rufus 360 Experience’ (see case study),
and Nike’s Hypervenom II ‘The Neymar Jr Effect Virtual Reality Experience’.
As for the impressive Gatorade work, it is just a shame (and something of a surprise) that Harper’s Washington Nationals didn’t make this season’s play-offs.
Gatorade parent company PepsiCo extended its sponsorship of Major League Baseball earlier in 2015 and the deal includes marketing rights for Gatorade, Pepsi, Aquafina and its snack portfolio brands such as Frito-Lay sunflower seeds and Cracker Jack.
OMD Zero Code:
Bryce Harper Twitter: